Demjanjuk: ‘Ivan the Bloody’

December 16, 2008

On November 10, 2008, the top Nazi hunter in Germany requested Munich prosecutors to seek extradition of Ivan “John” Demjanjuk, with the intention of trying the Ukrainian-turned-American for his role in the Holocaust. Demjanjuk is accused in the deaths of 29,000 Jews at Sobibor, a Nazi death camp in Poland where he was a guard. (AP report, Buffalo News, November 11, 2008.)

In 1986, Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel, where he spent seven years in custody and was tried as the infamous “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka death camp. I became involved in August 1987, when his family urged me to prove that the Nazi identification card was a forgery or that its photograph depicted a different man. Instead, I found further evidence of the card’s authenticity, and identification experts I consulted proved that the photograph was indeed that of Ivan Demjanjuk. (For example, a forensic anthropologist concluded that the facial features were consistent, including an enlarged right orbit [eye socket], and an identification expert matched ear configurations.)

Nevertheless, Demjanjuk had defenders—not all of whom were “Holocaust revisionists,” Nazi apologists, or conspiracy theorists. When doubts were raised about which of two Ivans was the legendary mass-murderer at Treblinka, the Israeli high court set Demjanjuk free.

I became reinvolved in the case when I was contacted by agents of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI). I shared my files and produced an affidavit of October 5, 2000, for U.S. District Court in Ohio. In 2002, a U.S. District Court judge stripped Demjanjuk of his American citizenship for lying about his participation in war crimes. That was proven by his Nazi identification card—which placed him at a guard-training camp and as a guard at Sobibor death camp—as well as much additional evidence, including a Nazi SS tattoo which he had had removed, and the confession of a fellow Sobibor guard. (See my   Unsolved History: Investigating Mysteries of the Past , University Press of Kentucky, 2005, chapter 4.)

Clearly established evidence shows that Demjanjuk was a roving Nazi death-camp guard—if not “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka, certainly Ivan the Bloody at Sobibor. At age 88, he continues to try to run out the clock on justice.



#1 RevEl on Tuesday December 16, 2008 at 4:00pm

It would have been very illuminating if Dr. Nickell had devoted just a few sentences explaining what evidence was considered by the Isreali high court that ultimately set Demjanjuk free.
  ~Rev. El

#2 Eric Tawney R.Ph. (Guest) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 at 7:43pm

This is an intriguing story and I’m sure that more information will be forthcoming.  Where is Demjanjuk now, what new information has come to light and why don’t we hear more about this in our national news?  I remember there being a difference in height.  Where can I learn more about this?

#3 RevEl on Tuesday December 16, 2008 at 8:10pm

Much more can be learned about Demjanjuk in any number of places.  Here are a couple of great places to start:


Happy learning.
  ~Rev. El Mundo

#4 Bill Pelton (Guest) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 at 10:33am

There is a much, much larger issue at stake in the Demjanjuk case.  It concerns the American justice system.  2% of the US population is highly interested in executing Demjanjuk, since they consider that he committed terrible crimes against their racial group.

But, many, many atrocities were committed during World War II, including terrible crimes committed by Japanese guards on American prisoners in the Philippines, during the “Death March” from Bataan.

I think that most Americans are happy to put the crimes of World War II behind them, after 63 years, because terrible crimes against civilians were committed by both sides, including the firebombing of civilians in Dresden by the US and the UK, the crimes aginst civilians in Nanking, China by the Japanese, and monstrous crimes against Eastern European civilians by both Germans and Soviets.

I could understand an even-handed worldwide attempt to bring the perpetrators of all war crimes to justice - particularly those who raped or murdered civilians.

But what I cannot understand, is the American Justice Department setting up a special department and singling out, and zealously prosecuting, war crimes committed only against a single racial group which comprises 2% of the US population.

That is not justice.  That is an absolute outrage and travesty of justice.  It is a modern day witch hunt, sanctioned by the US Justice Department.

All the people who committed war crimes should be prosecuted, or none of them.  It is not justice to single out and prosecute just one group of people who committed war crimes against a particular racial group.

If you are going to harass and prosecute 88-year-old war criminals who have not committed any crimes in the 63 years since World War II ended, you should harass and prosecute all 88-year-old war criminals, not just those who committed crimes against a certain racial group - even if those of that racial group are considered “God’s chosen people”.

#5 S (Guest) on Thursday December 18, 2008 at 5:22am

I find judaism an extremly racist religion.
I find zionism even worse.
What I see the jews and zionists doing in Palesttine right now is as bad to me as what this guy supposedly did in Germany so many decades ago.
I want to see more outrage about what is happening right now in palestine than what happened so many decades ago.
I just do not buy any of this gods chosen crap.

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